Trade shows are a great way for you to learn more about your industry. Exhibitors who attend trade shows have the opportunity to network with others, meet potential new clients, and build connections with influential members of the community. Meanwhile, attendees get an inside look at innovative new products and services, access to informative and interactive workshops, and the chance to learn from exhibitors and industry experts.
Whether you are an attendee or as an exhibitor, there are plenty of ways you can get involved and make the most of your time at the show. On average, 90% of trade show attendees have not interacted with exhibitors within the past year. Believe it or not, however, trade shows offer countless opportunities for you to connect with potential customers who have not already associated with your company.
Even though this pool of prospective clients is large, you will have to compete with several other exhibitors for their attention. Want to draw customers to your booth? Try grabbing their attention with creative games or contests.
While many other exhibitors will run simple attractions like business card drawings, you can offer more high-energy, innovative games that will show attendees that your booth is worth visiting:
1. MINUTE TO WIN IT GAMES
Set up different minute to win it games that switch throughout the trade show. These games are fun and easy to play, and they are sure to draw attendees your way. Have someone with a lot of energy “host” these games, to help attendees form a positive association with your booth and your brand. You can offer branded prizes for the winners or incorporate elements of your brand or items with your logo into the games.
You can have attendees sign up in order to play; this way, you will have information about everyone who interacts with your booth. You can then take a photo of the winner during each game and make an announcement post on social media.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA CONTESTS
Create a hashtag and offer prizes for people who post pictures using the hashtag throughout the event. Have a drawing every 30 minutes or every hour and announce the winner on social media. This will not only encourage people to follow your social media accounts, but it will keep attendees excited and checking your hashtag all day. This will help you have a captive audience when you make announcements or post information about your company using the same hashtag, and attendees will find it more interesting than a business card drawing.
3. GAME SHOWS OR TRIVIA CONTESTS
Have an energetic member of your sales team run a trivia contest where you can reward visitors for answering questions. An interactive game of Who Wants to be a Millionaire tailored toward your brand way to gain visitors. These activities will help people interact with your booth, and it will give you the chance to incorporate questions or facts about your products and services.
4. ARTS, CRAFTS, AND OTHER RELAXING ACTIVITIES
At Marketing Week Live 2014, an exhibitor ran an origami booth. As attendees took the opportunity to relax and learn how to make origami animals, they were able to have meaningful conversations with people, including the sales team and fellow attendees. Activities like this allow companies the time and space to make connections with attendees without worrying about these potential clients rushing off to another booth.
Try creating a booth with comfortable places to sit, or offer a calming activity so that attendees can stop by when they need to recharge their batteries–both figuratively and literally. Provide free wi-fi and charging cables so that attendees can charge their devices will they chat. Trade shows can be exhausting. If you offer the chance to relax, many attendees will head to your booth.
5. CELEBRITY IMPERSONATORS
Hire a celebrity impersonator to take pictures with people who visit your booth. Not only will attendees to flock to your booth; a great celebrity impersonator will also encourage visitors to take pictures and post them on social media. You can hire people who look like any number of celebrities, including Austin Powers, for your trade show booth and reap the benefits.
6. FLASH MOBS
Nothing will turn eyes your way like a group of dancers surrounding your booth. Hire a flash mob to perform, wearing your branded merchandise. Let them throw out some free merchandise during their dance as well. This will keep the energy high and make attendees eager to check out your booth.
7. FOOD STANDS
If you really want your booth to be memorable, you should provide food for your visitors. Many stands will have candy or mints at their table, but you can rise above the competition by offering delicious food everyone will enjoy.
Try having a cake pop decorating stand at your booth or a build-your-own-taco bar. While these ideas might seem strange, they will certainly help your booth stand out, and they will give attendees the chance to network with one another and your company will they make and eat their food.
8. LIVE BROADCAST
If you have the space, try using a tv and equipment to live broadcast the events and activities happening at your booth. You could also have live recording of a team member somewhere within the convention center and offer a prize for the first person to find him.
9. MASCOTS AND ICONS
Does your company have a mascot or a distinct icon or logo? Try creating your booth in the shape of that design to be noticeable and help your brand stand out.
10. CHALLENGE OTHERS TO TRADE SHOW COMPETITIONS
The exhibitors do not have to have all the fun at a trade show. There are several ways attendees can have a great experience as well. Here are a few ideas that you can try to network and learn as much as possible while you attend a trade show:
When you go to a trade show, meet someone new, exchange information, and challenge them to a exhibitor competition. See who can visit the most tables by the end of the day, or see who can get the most free swag. This friendly competition will help you connect with someone new, learn about several new products and services from different exhibitor booths, and have fun exploring the trade show.
If you are attending the trade show with a group of your colleagues, challenge another group. At the end of the day, your two groups can meet up and talk about the trade show.
11. KNOW WHO YOU WANT TO SEE FROM THE START
Do not feel like you have to attend every panel or scheduled event if you are having a good conversation with someone on the trade show floor. Make a list of attendees or entrepreneurs who will be at the trade show, and make a point to talk with them at some point throughout the event. If you feel like you are making a valuable connection, do not cut it short in order to check out another booth. Focus on networking.
12. CREATE UNIQUE BUSINESS CARDS
The number of business cards that people will exchange throughout a trade show is immeasurable. Try to make your business cards stand out so that people will be more inclined to look at your card again when the event is over. When your business cards are memorable, you will be, too.
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